Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Randomness 10/23/12

 Photo: Jackson asleep on the couch.  A colleague said he looked "angelic" in this picture.  True dat.  What can you say when your dog is more photogenic than you are?

Been away for awhile again, this time because my dog's been very ill, to the extent that I had to bring him to the vet yesterday and he has to spend two, maybe three, days and nights there to recover.  He's got an infected pancreas, which sounds nasty to me.  Very treatable, they say, and he doesn't have a fever, which means the infection wasn't too bad, but he'd been vomiting a ton of times over the past few days.  So wish Jackson the Wonderdog well!

So a few random things on my mind lately:

--I'm as lazy as anyone.  (Well, actually I'm very hyperactive and always busy, but whatever.)  But I draw some kind of line.  Convenience is just a fancy word for laziness, and there's only so much convenience I can take.  I don't know exactly where the line is, but a lot of money at the cost of convenience/laziness is simply not something I'll allow myself.  (Heck, not even a little amount of money.)

So recently there were two instances on Pawn Stars that drove me crazy.  I temporarily misplaced lost my notes about one of them, so I can only speak about one.  For sale: a 1760 bell.  Very good condition; used to be someplace very important and historical.  (Forgot where.)  Anyway, the expert was called in, and he said that at an auction it would fetch at least $15,000.  At least!  So let's just say fifteen.  Auctions take fifteen to twenty percent of the sale price.  Ten percent of fifteen grand is fifteen hundred, so twenty percent is three thousand.  So now it's twelve grand.  Maybe there are taxes to pay; I don't know, but there'd be taxes to pay, theoretically, selling it to the Pawn Stars, too, so that's a wash.  Let's say that other fees, like shipping it to the closest good auction house (though he's already in Vegas!  He couldn't just drive it to an auction house in Vegas?!?) would bring the total take down to ten grand (and I'll bet the take would be closer to the twelve.)  And that's minimum, as the expert said at least fifteen grand.  Bottom line, then, is that at an auction, the seller could walk away with ten to twelve grand.

He sold it to the Pawn Stars for $7,200.  After the expert says that if the seller takes it to an auction, it would sell for fifteen grand, and so he'd walk away with at least ten to twelve thousand, he sells it to them for $7,200.  That's a loss, minimum, of $2,800, and probably more like $4,800.  Why?  Because he's standing in front of a buyer, right then and there.  Didn't want to make a few calls, and drive it or ship it anywhere--or wait.  That's just crazy.  Someone's got to explain this to me.

--Two girls, both twelve years old, were murdered this past week by someone as they were walking or riding a bike to a friend's house.  And a twenty-two year old woman in Oregon was killed by a man who punched through a window of her SUV, got in the car and killed her, dumped her body, used her phone and then dumped the phone (cell phones can be traced), and then left her car somewhere.  It's a sick world out there.

--I've heard weather experts say it's going to be a very cold winter around here.  I've also heard the same number say it'll be a warm winter, though not as warm as last year.  A warm winter actually means more snow around here, as it's too dry to snow when it's too cold.  I'll take the too cold anyday.  More snow means bad driving, more shoveling, less walking of the dog, which will lead to much more whining, and possibly paying a neighbor to plow my driveway if the snow gets crazy.  So here's to the cold--but no ice on the roads, please.  Hate that.

--If Romney wins, I don't want to hear it from the 47% he obviously doesn't care about.  In his head, he's the rich white man's president.

--During the last debate, his facial expressions ran the gamut between obvious lovey-dovey towards Obama, to looking like he was about to vomit, with the occasional greasy used car salesman thrown in.  Weird, sad and slimy, in turns.

--His chin and jowls are tucked; his hair is slicked; his chin got in a duel with Jay Leno and won; his smile is either slick, sick or frozen.  He's more superficial than flavored ice cream on the nip and tucked face and silicone lips of a bottled blonde with chest enhancements.  And he openly and honestly doesn't give a damn about at least 47% of the country.  Voting for him would still be less insane than voting for Bush, especially the second time, but it would still be insane, nonetheless, and if you believe his assertion that he's run businesses and so therefore he can run the country, then you must think that snuffing out a lit candle makes you a professional firefighter.

--You can break a mirror in one second, but it would take a ton of hours to fix every little piece of glass into the mirror frame.  And so it would obviously take more than four years to fix eight years of broken pieces.  In fact, it would take at least a generation.  We can't give that, but we can give four more.

--This is post #250 on this site.  I appreciate my audience.  Thanks for reading, everyone.

Monday, October 8, 2012

My Day in Court

Photo: Movie promo poster of The Verdict from its Wikipedia page.  Loved this movie.  One of Paul Newman's two best roles, in my opinion, right up there with Nobody's Fool.

I've been away for awhile again, as my PC is still unusable right now, as my upstairs is still getting renovated.  Though I should have the time soon to put my office back together, and then I'll get one of these babies posted every three days or so, like I usually do.

Anyway, the new experience this week was when I spent Friday in court--not for something I did wrong, either.  I've been an onlooker in a courtroom a few times, but I've never testified with a lawyer before.  (I did testify once in front of a judge because of a speeding ticket I got as a college student, but that's another blog entry.)  I learned a few things:

--Possibly even more than justice, judges want expediency.  Mine had over 50 cases of its type to get through on Friday alone; he had a system that moved, moved, moved.  Open folder.  Say names.  Get the lawyer to say what kind of case it is (contest, etc.).  This took awhile.  At the end of it, he practically begged everyone to talk to the parties in the hallway and reach a conclusion themselves; otherwise he had several days of cases in front of him at that time, never mind the others in the upcoming days.  I can see that life would be hellish if many of those aren't settled by the parties.  To my surprise, many of them were.  So he called them up, asked the plaintiff what the deal was, and told the defendants that these agreements were now also court orders.  He asked if everyone understood the agreements, if they entered them of their own free will, and if they had any other questions for him.  He got rid of maybe 1/3 of his docket this way.  He was very happy when people solved the problems themselves, and said so.  He had sort of a sense of humor.

--Judges take the cases in front of other judges.  Not like divorce cases, as in the infamous mistake by Brian de Palma in The Untouchables, but simple matters like mine.  So a courtroom cop came into the courtroom and told my courtroom's cop that the judge next door was out of cases and was willing to take some of his.  My judge said he wasn't ready for that, as he had just one case at that time to send over.  Like his butt was on fire, my lawyer jumped up and said our case was of the same type, and that we were willing to go next door immediately.  The judge okayed this.  On the way over, me and my lawyer went over a few things, and then suddenly I was in front of the (smiling, classy and attractive) judge, saying my Yesses and Nos nervously (the judge seemed to be giving me one of those understanding smiles) and then she ruled in my favor for everything I was asking for.  Once in front of the judge, the whole thing took about twenty seconds.

--It's not just a tv or movie thing: apparently crossing The Bar is a serious thing.  I blissfully walked up to my lawyer to let him know the court had misspelled something important, and he practically pushed me into the hallway.  Embarrassed, and with a nervous smile, he told me that the courtroom cop would've tackled me to the floor if he'd been in the room.  (I hadn't noticed that he wasn't; my venture wasn't a planned thing.)  I'm curious now as to how the judge took it, or if he'd even noticed.

--My lawyer clapped me on the back and said that I'd done a great job.  He's done that a million times and probably forget how nerve-wracking it can be.  If I put him on my job's stage, I bet he'd be nervous as hell, too.

--Only movie and tv courtrooms look polished and ornately wooden.  Mine had a flat, grey carpet from around 1982, and it had folds and bumps in it, too.  I was hoping someone would trip over those, but nobody did.  The judge's desk and chair, and the witness box, were simple wooden things, nothing special, and the podiums for the defendant and plaintiff were low-grade wood and something else I can't place.  The snazziest part of the courtroom were the lawyers' chairs.  Everyone else got thin wooden pews.  The Bar, which I crossed, seemed like nice, but faux, marble.

--About 50 cases for 5 lawyers.  Two of them seemed to represent at least half of all of the individuals and companies.  And the lawyers are into expediency almost as much as the judges are.  Mine jumped up like his butt was on fire to get us into the other courtroom because he couldn't wait to get out of there.

--Not to judge, but you can tell the plaintiffs from the defendants.  The plaintiffs, such as myself, wore suits or other professional clothing and ties.  The defendants, and I do mean all of them, wore ripped gym pants, or jeans from another decade, and were often unshowered and overall icky.  One guy's scalp was red and rashy, and another woman looked like she hadn't showered or changed her clothing in this calendar year.  One defendant leaned on the podium, and spoke and interrupted the judge like he owned the place.  He lost.  What are these people thinking?

--The only thing worse than looking and behaving like that is not showing up at all.  Mine didn't.  The plaintiff's lawyer asks for an immediate judgment, and they always get it in their favor.  Fast.  When I went to the other judge's courtroom, the first thing she said was: "I assume you're in front of me now because the other party didn't show up?"  When my lawyer said, "Yes, your Honor," she sat there and clearly waited for us to be done with our act so she could make her judgment for us.  And when you don't show up, the plaintiff's lawyer will ask the judge to also award court costs and lawyer fees, which my judge did.  Can't get blood from a stone, but we got the judgments, anyway.

--Very disappointing: No gavels, and no pounding of gavels.  Apparently that's for effect on the screen.  And no one said anything excessively stupid, like on Judge Judy, so there weren't any speeches or moralizing, either.

--Judges mediate as much, if not more, than they judge.